#SuperheroStories: Michelle Mahoney
She’s excited. She’s ready. She’s unstoppABLE.
In one summer, Michelle Mahoney’s whole life would change.
Michelle’s older sister Patsy began work at Easter Seals’ Camp Tidnish in Amherst, Nova Scotia in 1982. The youngest of five children, Michelle knew that going to a summer camp, much less an accessible one, was a luxury that her parents could not afford.
Born with the third known case of Arthrogryposis in Nova Scotia, Michelle Mahoney has stiff joints and weak muscles. However, her condition has never gotten in the way of her ability to ski, adaptive surf or rappel from a 23-storey building.
This will be Michelle’s second year participating in the Easter Seals Drop Zone Halifax event which will take place on September 29 this year.
“It was one of the coolest things I have ever done,” exclaims Michelle. “It was exhilarating!”
Drop Zone is Michelle’s way of paying forward the experiences that she was fortunate enough to have, thanks to Easter Seals Nova Scotia’s generous donors who made it possible for her to attend Camp Tidnish that summer.
As fate had it, Patsy discovered that many of the children at Camp Tidnish were sponsored by their local rotary clubs. After encouragement from Patsy to reach out to the Rotary Club of Springhill, their mother was able to secure a sponsorship from the club that allowed Michelle to attend Camp Tidnish for nine summers.
Over the years, more of her family became involved at the camp to volunteer or work. One of Michelle’s sisters, Terri, became the first full-time director of Camp Tidnish in 1988. Her mother was even adopted as the camp “Mom,” a nickname that campers lovingly bestowed upon her.
Michelle’s last summer at camp was the year that she graduated from high school.
For Drop Zone, an event where funds go towards Easter Seals’ programs and services like Camp Tidnish, Michelle has received $2,600 in pledges — more than enough to send one child to camp. Raising well past the minimum funds to register, Michelle does not intend to stop there. She hopes to raise much more before her rappel down 1801 Hollis Street, an office building in downtown Halifax.
“I know firsthand where the funds go,” she explains.
Though leaving Camp Tidnish was terrifying for her, Michelle carried with her the confidence to push her own boundaries well after she left. After attending university, she moved to Halifax to pursue her career. Michelle went on to learn how to drive, get married, and build and move into an accessible home.
Michelle’s next goals include skating at Emera Oval – Canada’s largest outdoor, artificially refrigerated ice surface in Atlantic Canada – and doing the Edge Walk at Toronto’s CN Tower – an adrenaline-charged opportunity to scale the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.
“I have always credited Camp Tidnish for giving me the courage to try new things and the determination to dream big.”
Her relationship with Easter Seals has now come full circle.
In addition to participating in Drop Zone, Michelle became a member of the Board of Directors for Easter Seals Nova Scotia last year, representing the Board at events including the Kartbahn 250 Fundraiser, the 100 Women Who Care and the California Wine Fair.
“It feels so great to be able to give back to an organization that has done so much for me.”
Michelle’s participation in Drop Zone and with Easter Seals are super in every way. Not only is she an inspirational example of what the programs and services at Easter Seals can accomplish, but Michelle is paying the opportunities forward so that future Easter Seals kids can be #unstoppABLE as well.